Tell A Tale in 500 Words

A Tale of a City that went Backwards in Time By Rhianna Bonsall

“You saw the news, I take it.”

Tanya sighed, long and slow. “Graeme, the new mayor.” She let the silence fill the air while she continued to wipe the grimy cafĂ© table. But the news was too horrible to bear. Her fury burst from her. “How did this happen?”

Bea’s turn to sigh. “I don’t know.” She tucked a fallen strand of black hair back behind her ear with an ebony, work-hardened hand. “But we can still fight it,” she promised.

A hard laugh escaped Tanya’s lips as she turned to continue her labour. “Us? Two black women. The epitome of what Mayor Graeme hates most. The place has been empty all day, and you know the reason why.”

Ignoring her words, true as they were, Bea stopped cleaning the counters and approached her across the room. “There’s a march on Saturday. At least think about coming.”

With the anxious look that her face had become accustomed to, Tanya gave a hesitant nod.

***

Once a hot chocolate was in her dark hands and she was curled on her sofa, she allowed herself to think about the upcoming march. It was risky, of course it was risky. But something needed to be done. Mayor Graeme had just been elected into office in a land slide vote, the first the small town had ever seen. His racist and sexist policies had seen to it that past prejudices were relived, not that they hadn’t been making a comeback of late anyhow. Black people shunned from society, women harassed in the streets. Young black boys participating in a peaceful march, shot by the people that were supposed to protect them.

The pain came out of her in a slow and deep breath. On her way to bed, she stopped to kiss an ebony finger and lay it on the framed photo of Daniel. He had been eighteen years old. She would do it for him.

***

Black Lives Matter. An elegant flick of the wrist, and the sign was finished. Tanya held it up, as if practicing the ancient art of sign holding. A hand on her shoulder told her it was time.

The crowd, black people and white alike, surged forwards at a calm pace, chanting and thrusting signs into the air. Tanya’s heart beat echoed her footfalls. A glance to the side let her know that Bea was still there, chanting along. Diverting her eyes forwards again, she saw a policeman. Her heart stopped.

The crowd halted. Shouting now, the chanting gone. More police. One approached Tanya, and she lowered her sign and raised a hand in peace. “We just –“

“She has a gun!”

BANG.

In the glimpses between darkness, Tanya saw the pale gravel drinking up her own blood. A taser fell next to her hand. Bea in the distance, white claws in police uniform, dragging her away as she screamed.

“TANYA!”

Shot, by the people who were supposed to protect her.


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